Embattled Healing

“But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish.” (Isaiah 9:1)

Six months ago today my son took his own life.

And everything changed.

A week ago this past Friday I had a breakdown so severe that Michelle almost had to take me to the hospital. One week ago today, I had a “flashback” so graphic & real of that moment I found my son i screamed, my body flew back several steps, and it was several long seconds before I recovered enough to have the presence of mind to rebuke the enemy and invoke the name of Jesus Christ. This has, in turn, forced me into another round of EMDR therapy.

I guess it’s no coincidence that today my daily devotion time with God began with the 9th chapter of Isaiah. Not only does the chapter kick off with the prophecy cited at the top, but verse 6 is the familiar passage, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given….”, prophesying the coming of “God with skin on”, Jesus Christ, Immanuel, God With Us.

On May 13th, when the earth shifted under our feet, all I believed to be true & real was knocked off its axis. It was as though my gut was kicked in so hard my contacts flew out and, as a result, everything became immediately dark & blurry. A few days later though, still “blind,” I finally heard a Voice whisper, “Nick, take My hand. I’ve got you. In fact, I’ve always had you. I. Am. Jesus. I was there to catch Jordan that day. And I was there to catch you, as well. BOTH of you were, and are, safe & secure in the palm of My hand.”

Since that day I first heard His voice again, through His Word (the Bible) & His Body (you), He is helping me refocus. My “contacts” are back in. And, although there are still moments that I lose my way, He is there to whisper, “Peace, Nick, I’ve got this. My love for you is beyond your human level of comprehension. Trust Me.” I mentioned earlier that, on May 13th, everything changed. Not everything. I did. My family did. But God didn’t. He’s still good. And He’s still God.

Life, Not Death – So, as best as I can, today – six months removed – I will focus not on when Jordan died, but when he truly became alive. I love you so much, Jordan.

nw

Double Time (Job)

In Job 42:12, God blessed Job with TWICE what he had lost in chapters 1 & 2. The number of livestock listed in this verse is double the number cited in 1:3.

However, in 42:13, God replaced the number of children Job had lost, 10, with only another 10. This begs the question, “Why double the animals, but not the children?”

I like how one commentator answers that question: “Because Job’s seven sons and three daughters he’d lost were alive & well waiting for him in heaven.”

Jesus told a grieving Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.” (John 11:25-26). Oh, what a reunion that must’ve been when Job & his wife were met in heaven by the children they’d lost. Oh, what a reunion it will be for the rest of us as well. I love you, Jordan!

nw

What’s in a Name? (Job)

“What’s in a name?” – Biblically, a lot.

The covenant name God used for Himself in the Old Testament is actually four letters, “YHWH.” (Scholars refer to it as a “tetragrammaton,” which, in Greek, means “four letters.”)

Vowels were later added to give us the name “Yahweh” which, when pronounced correctly, sounds like a breath. This more personal, “covenant” name, Yahweh, was used in the first two chapter of Job when we’re being introduced to the book’s primary character.

However, in chapters 3-37, when Job’s “friends” (with friends like these who needs enemies) are verbally beating Job up, the writer uses the Hebrew name for God, “El Shaddai,”  which means “God the Almighty”.

It’s not until God “shows up” in chapter 38 that, once again, the writer, inspired by God, returns to using the name “Yahweh.”

Here’s the implication:  this reminds me that, even in my most unspeakable pain & suffering, God is not only with me, He is INTIMATE with me.

Centuries later, God revealed His name on an even more intimate level in Jesus Christ, who is called “Emmanuel” (God is with us.)

Shock Absorbtion

My friends, i so appreciate the prayer for me & my family over the weekend. I now am convinced I reverted back into shock this past Friday evening. It was frightening. I lost sight of the reality of Jesus – and all hell broke loose in my mind. But, Christ is faithful (not to mention modern medicine He has granted us) .

From “GriefShare.org”: “Shock is a sudden, violent disturbance to the body. The same term is used to describe the effect of an electric current passing through the body. You have likely encountered this paralyzing reaction in grief.” After I read this earlier today it occurred to me that’s exactly what happened when I collapsed on our floor Friday and my body went rigid. However,….

“Weeping (and debilitating grief) may last for the night,” wrote the psalmist, “but joy comes in the morning.”

Also from “GriefShare.org”: “It does get better; you will experience joy again. In her book ‘A Passage Through Grief,’ Barbara Baumgardner writes, ‘They told me one day I would go twenty-four hours without thinking of my loss. I told them they were crazy. They weren’t crazy; they were right. At first, I felt guilt, then elation.’ God is the source of your hope and joy. Believe these words of Jesus in John 16:20 – ‘I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.”

I don’t know if what I endured Friday was a normal part of the grieving process associated with losing a child to suicide, or a calculated attack by satan to destroy my faith, preventing the return of joy (which I can now see on the “horizon”). Perhaps a little of both.

What I do know is this. Apart from the power of Christ, and the love & support through His Body (you), me & family would never make it.

nw

Wanting My Day in Court

I read the book of Job (the “o” in Job is “long”) differently since May 13th. Job lost ten children – i lost only one. But, I think the death of merely one child can send a parent over the edge. I love the man, Job, because he gives me biblical permission to accuse God of wrong-doing.

In 13:3, Job moans, “But I desire to speak to the Almighty and to argue my case with God.” (Job 13:3) In the following verses Job tells his friends – who think THEY are God – to shut up. I like that, too.

Job loses no steam between chapters 13 & 23 where, in 23:4, he still wants “his day in court” with God. Screaming at God to kill him, Job cries out, “Why was I even born if You planned on hurting me like this??” This is the raw honesty that fills the early chapters of this story.

In Job 38, God answers Job’s request for a “court date”.   And every time I read the first few words of that chapter it scares me to death.  Of course, that was Job’s reaction, as well. Not once giving Job insight into the heavenly wager made in ch’s 1 & 2, the Judge immediately puts JOB on trial. It’s terrifying. In chapter 40, Job confesses that there is one God – and that Job is not Him. Scared to death, Job promises not to even open his mouth again against the Holy God.

Isolating the book of Job from the other 65 books of the Bible makes God look like an arrogant Ruler who simply toys with His creation. But, that’s why God gave us (as news-journalist, Paul Harvey, used to say) “the rest of the story.” For, it’s in the Gospel accounts, in Christ Jesus, we see the heart of the Holy God. In Christ, we see a God who laughs with us, cries with us, and loves us with a love that defies human understanding.

One more thing comes to mind that I must share here. In 2003, our family went through a devastating event. One day soon after that event while we were all in the car I asked everyone, “What’s your favorite Bible story?” Jordan answered first – I’ll never forget it. Only 10 years old, he said, “The story of Job.” (i thought that was an odd answer coming from someone as young as him. Normally, a child that young responds with something more like Noah or Jonah.) “Why?”, I asked. He replied, “Because after Job suffered God blessed him with twice as much as he had before he suffered.”

I wonder if Jordan has met Job yet in heaven. I like to think he has and that they’ve had the chance to talk about how insignificant their suffering on earth was compared to what they enjoy now, made possible by Christ. And, who knows – perhaps Paul joined the conversation and reminisced over what he’d written to the Roman believers in the first century: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18 NIV)

And, all of these conversations are taking place in the presence of the One who suffered most of all, who is the Lamb, who is the Shepherd, who is the risen King – Jesus Christ.

nw

Losing My Way. And Finding It Again.

I want to thank each of you from the bottom of my heart for your prayers/notes/love for me last night. In hindsight, I can think of a number of things that triggered it, but not since the early days following Jordan’s death have I been filled with as much rage and pain as yesterday. It just erupted. (To this day, my oh-so-slowly-healing right wrist reminds me of the afternoon i found my son and hit my driveway so hard with my fist i almost broke my wrist.) Like Job, I screamed at God yesterday, “Why did You take my son?!!!” My body convulsed and I had trouble breathing. What ensued was a literal psychological & spiritual war. I scared my family and lashed out at them.

Then, I collapsed.

“I’m so sorry….I lost my way,” I told Macy & Michelle last night as we wept, prayed and held each other so tightly in our living room. I had lost sight of Jesus – and when that happens, especially after losing a child to suicide, all hell can break loose in a parent’s mind. Thank God almighty for a family who called on God’s Army of Prayer Warriors last night to help me, once again, “find my way” back to Jesus. You cannot know how grateful I am for your prayers.

The angel, Gabriel, told Daniel, “As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given.” (Dan. 9:23)